On June 5, 2019, I had the opportunity to interview the mayor of Ocala, Florida, Republican, Kent Guinn. I would first like to thank the mayor for granting me the opportunity to speak with him on his career and the city of Ocala.
The first topic of our conversation was why he chose to become the mayor of Ocala and what made him want to run for elected office. He told me that he is a fifth generation Ocalan and that his family emigrated to the city back in the 1850s. Ocala has served him and his family for over a century and a half and he felt that he owed the city and it is civic duty to serve as the city’s mayor. He told me that his first attempt for a seat of the city council was an unsuccessful one, but his second try was the one that earned him a seat. Eventually, he decided it was time for him to run for mayor as the incumbent was no longer going to run for office. He was elected into office and has served as the city’s mayor for the better half of two decades.
When we got to the daily duties of being the Ocalan mayor, he first described the government of the city. He described the structure of government as a council-manager form of municipal government. A council-manager system of government is where the council serves as the legislative body of the city’s government and they appoint a professional manager to serve as the chief executive of the city and oversee many of the processes of the city. Guinn stated that one of the major aspects of his role as mayor is overseeing the chief of police and the police department. He also has the ability to veto a bill that he does not approve of if he does not wish to sign it. Guinn told me that one of the other aspects of his job is being an advocate for the people of the city and an advisor to the city’s legislators. He says that when one of his citizens has a problem, they can come to him and he will work to fix the situation.
One of the major things that he and his administration are working on is the downtown area of the city. Guinn told me that he is working to bring in all sorts of things into the downtown. He is working to bring in many businesses to help provide jobs for the citizens. He said that there are so many jobs that there are plenty to go around. He also wants to bring other sorts of things for the community to use in the downtown area which he did say he is working on doing. He also stated that one of the most important aspects of a city that businesses look at is their downtown area. By growing the downtown area, he believes that will work in attracting more businesses to help in growing the city’s economy.
Recently, the Ocala city council voted to keep fluoride in the city’s water. When I asked for his thoughts on this movement, he said that he was extremely vocal in his approval of keeping fluoride in the water. He reasoned that fluoride is essential for people’s dental hygiene and he wanted to help people have easy access to it. He told me that company’s that have the compound in their products such as toothpaste and mouthwash wanted the movement to fail because they wanted to be able to profit off a lack of fluoride. He did not think this was a good move by those companies and he was against their initiative.
The last topic of our conversation focused on a recent shooting in northwestern Ocala. A sixteen-year-old boy and a seventeen-year-old boy were both shot and injured. Guinn told me that he was not currently aware of that specific shooting, but he does have thoughts on shootings like that. He said that he and the police department will look into the case and work to ensure a shooting like that does not occur again. He said that shooting are extremely rare in the city and that he and the US Attorney have worked hard together to take many people who threaten others with firearms off of the streets.